MX23RW : Wednesday, September 26 13:19:27

Martin Johnson takes blame for 'ballgate' scandal

Johnson takes 'ballgate' blame
© PA Photos
England coach Martin Johnson accepts full responsibility for the 'ballgate' scandal which has hit his side.

England coach Martin Johnson insists that he is to blame for the 'ballgate' scandal that has hit his team.

Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon have both been banned by the RFU for providing Jonny Wilkinson with the wrong balls during England's win over Romania.

The rules state that, unless the referee is asked, conversions must be kicked with the same ball that was used to score the try.

However, the England staff did not consult the referee whether it was okay to change the balls for the kicks.

"I'm an employee of the RFU," said Johnson. "Paul and David did what they did in the heat and confusion of a Test match.

"I don't suspend guys lightly. We regret what we did and it was wrong. They have made a mistake and paid for it.

"We should have asked the referee [to switch the ball]. We didn't. They asked us to stop. We did."

England must avoid defeat by eight points against Scotland on Saturday in order to progress to the World Cup quarter-finals.

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